CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – The third time wasn’t the charm for the Saratoga Springs field hockey team, looking to take a chance on another sports adage ‘It’s hard to beat a team three times,’ Wednesday afternoon in the Section II Class A semifinal.

This time, the charm resided with the green and white of Shenendehowa as the Plainsmen found their voices and each other in a 3-0 win at Brent T. Steuerwald Stadium and will face Guilderland Sunday afternoon at Glens Falls High School in the final.

“We've always had a problem getting that third win against 'Toga so we were really fired up today,” Shenendehowa’s Julie Kuzmich said. “We were really working on passing and looking for each other and focusing on our teammates instead of getting caught up in our mindset and messing up because it's 'Toga.”

Sydney Reinisch opened up the scoring for the Plainsmen from an assist by Kuzmich seven minutes into the first 30 minute half.

“It helped shift the momentum and be positive because lately we sometimes don't score until the second half and earlier in the year we didn't score that often,” Lauren Shanahan said. “So starting the game off strong really helped us be positive and move us forward and keep the momentum.”

The early tally fed the emotions of the entire Shen squad.

“That was awesome, she really set the tone and also the fact that every single goal today was a team goal, we all worked together, a lot of people were touching the ball before it got to the goalie, and it wasn't just one person taking it by themselves.”

Kuzmich then put the Plainsmen up by two goals with her tally with 20 minutes left in the second half and then put the contest out of reach courtesy of an assist by Shanahan on a penalty corner three minutes later.

“It's awesome, there is nothing better than just looking at your teammates and having them be so excited for you,” Kuzmich said. “When you score, yea it's exciting for yourself, but to see everyone else so happy for you and have teammates that really just want you to do your best is so inspiring it just sets the tone for everybody else.”

Meanwhile the Blue Streaks struggled to find its own voice on the offensive side of the ball.

“We didn't gel together like I was hoping we would, that's what it comes down to,” Saratoga Springs coach Jo-Anne Hostig said. “We didn't have looks on goal and when they did they took advantage of it, pure advantage of it.

“I think we were actually dominating at certain points in the game, we just didn't have looks and it's hard. It goes back to us being young, unfortunately.”

The Saratoga defense faced numerous waves from Shen, turning back numerous opportunities, but unable to put enough pressure on Plainsmen goalkeepers Abby Danson and Payton Kisling.

“My goalie (Kristen Rodecker) hung in there, my defense hung in there. It's hard when the other end isn't as efficient getting it going,” Hostig said. “We would get it going, but didn't sustain it and they definitely sustained it, took the momentum and took advantage of what was being given to them.”

After the Plainsmen lost starter Rachel Sterle to a torn ACL in the middle of the season, the squad struggled to find itself.

“We started to pass the ball together and work together and we executed on our corners and they were communicating which was nice to see, that was the key,” Shenendehowa coach Jeanne Frevola said. “We started practicing better last week and all of the sudden this Saturday they were like 'Oh, if we talk to each other we don't have to look up, we know where everybody is.' That was the A-Ha moment for us.

“I'm glad it showed up because I've tried very hard not to put any pressure on them. For a group that started out like gangbusters, they actually coming back to their old selves. It's nice to see.”

Shenendehowa will now face Guilderland, a 2-1 double overtime winner over Bethlehem in the Section II final at Glens Falls High School noon Sunday afternoon.

The Dutchmen handed the Plainsmen a 1-0 loss at home earlier this year, the same contest that sidelined Sterle for the remainder of the season.

“I think it's good for field hockey to see different teams, it's good to see other people having success and I think in general it's going to save the sport,” Frevola said. “I've said that before that having schools be competitive it keeps kids interested and it gets more kids into the sport.

“I think that's a plus and I think it's nice for us to see somebody different. It's hard see the same school year after year after year after year because there is that history and last year it didn't end that well for us.”

comments powered by Disqus